It’s been almost three years since I fully retired from horseshoeing. My health just didn’t cooperate. First I had a doctor treating me for a breathing problem when I was actually bleeding to death internally. Enough so that death was knocking on my door. Then my ankle continually got worse from a rodeo accident in 1979. So I had to hang up my hammer and apron.
I would like to give a big shout out to all the lady farriers out there. I really don’t think they get enough recognition. It’s damn hard work. I tip my hat to them.
As soon as I heal up I plan on enjoying retirement a lot more.
“The art of healing comes from naturenot from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind. “ – Paracelsus
One thing I didn’t give much consideration and I wish now I would have, is physical strength. Presently I can’t put any weight on my right foot. At 66 years old it has produced a little bit of a problem. I have to use my upper body strength to get up and down. I am managing but wear out quickly. I would recommend working on your upper body strength to make moving around and walking easier.
As far as pain I can report that it hasn’t been real bad. I talked to two people who had went through the surgery and had a battle with pain. They are healed up and life is good for them with their new ankles. My first couple days I ran around an 8 on the pain scale but stay around a 2 now. What I call the “healing itch” has started and I am treating it with Benadryl and it seems to be working fine.
The day finally arrived. I had mixed emotions. Nervous, skeptical and hope. My accident happened in 1980. I crushed my heel, broke my ankle and broke my instep. That is when the pain started.
Fast forward to 2019 when I changed primary physician. He referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. He informed me ankle replacements had been happening for 25 years. He said he could help me so here we are.
It started at 10 am. Not sure when the surgery was finished but I awoke around 5:15 pm. I thought they were going to keep me but they decided to send me home. I guess one can really say this is where my journey begins.
I havent taken a step without pain for 40 years. I have lived with chronic pain. It wasn’t as bad in the beginning but it has got worse over the years. The surgery is supposed to take care of the pain. Time will tell.
Note: I plan on recording my recovery through my blog.
The above pic is a spotted bass that I caught on the St. Francois River. It was a tad over 24 inches. Using the App Fishing Scale it put the fish at 8.5 pounds. I returned it to the water only to find out later that the state record is 7 pounds 8 ounces. Yep it was one of those days. Now on to my day on the Big River.
It was just another glorious day on the Big River in Missouri. Bright blue sky with a touch of those puffy white clouds and temp in the mid 70s. I was floating a stretch of Big River that I love to fish. I put in at the Mammoth access and float to Merrill Horse access. It is a beautiful stretch of river with great smallmouth fishing. It has areas of shallow fast moving water followed by slow moving deep water and limestone bluffs. I usually see deer and there are a pair of Bald Eagles that I usually see around the bluffs. The fishing has always been pretty decent and plenty of spotted bass, largemouth bass and smallies.
That day I was having great success with a Rebel Wee Craw. I caught 6 smallies that were 13 inches and better. I had just went through a pretty narrow swift stretch of water that emptied into a shallow wider area of water but still fast moving. There was a place at the edge of a weed bed that swirled into an eddy. I maneuvered the yak where the bow was pointing upstream. I placed the Wee Craw right on the edge of the weeds when BAM! something hit it hard. I set the hook and the fight was on. I could tell it was a nice fish. It was pulling line but the bad thing was I was floating backwards downstream and couldn’t see what was behind me but on a good note I was still in the center of the river. Things were going good then it went to hell in a hand basket. I had got caught in an eddy that was pulling me into the bank and spinning the bow of the yak down river. By some miracle I got the bow headed back upstream but that was the end of the miracles. I was parallel to the bank in about three feet of water. I got it beside the yak and my heart started beating a hundred miles an hour. Hooked on the Wee Craw was the biggest smallie I had ever hooked. It dwarfed the 24 inch spotted bass I had caught. I completely blew my attempt to lip it. I was better than that. Well down under the yak it went and there in the water on the other side was a tree about 16 feet long with all its limbs. The smalli3 could its way to freedom and without hesitating the smallie began weaving through limbs until the line stopped pulling and after three tugs broke my line and disappeared into the waters of the Big River. I could hear it laughing. All I could do is sit there and slap my rod tip on the water over and over like a five year old child. I was devastated.
The image of that smallie is etched in my mind. It looked like one of those big samllies you see in the Bass Pro Shop tanks. Only if I hadn’t have blown trying to lip it. I made a rookie mistake even though I was a seasoned veteran. I had ran out of miracles. Yeah it was one of those days. One of those days I will never forget.
For those of you unfamiliar with smallmouth bass in Missouri Ozark streams it takes a samllie five years to reach 12 inches, seven years to reach 15 inches and nine to ten years to attain a length of 18 inches. Presently very few live more than seven to eight years. Missouri has a length limit of 15 inches on small mouth.
What would I have done if I had landed it? Put it on the board and took a measurement, took a picture, ok several pictures, then returned it to the water so it could finish living out its life. That’s the way I roll. I may have not landed that smallie that day but I will always cherish the memory.
I finally got a much needed night on the river. I finally took out time for myself. The only one I could blame for not doing it sooner was myself. I knew the river would be busy so I chose the Thursday before Labor Day weekend.
My plan was to set out some limb lines. My bait of choice is chicken livers but for some reason chicken livers are hard to find but through perseverance I finally scored. I also picked up a box of crawlers for tight line fishing. I got a late start but was able to salvage the day. I paddled up river to my favorite spot to set up camp. Once I reached my destination I busied myself setting up camp. I got busy starting a fire. We had a couple days of rain and dry wood was hard to come by. I managed to get a fire started with my magnesium rod and cotton balls impregnated with Vaseline.
When the fire was going good I set out to set my lines. When I got them all out I come back and baited them all with chicken liver. I returned to camp and started preparing supper. After I ate I threw out a tight line baited with a crawler to see what was hungry. I was disappointed that it was relatively quiet. The bullfrogs weren’t even in the mood to entertain the silly human. There was a full moon but the sky was cloud covered.
Around 10 pm I heard a lot of splashing going on in the direction of one of my lines. I jumped in the kayak, shoved off and headed that way. I shined my light on the limb and I could see it dancing. I had a pretty nice fish. I pulled along side of the line and could make out a nice channel catfish. I grabbed the line and got it in the kayak. It was a 24 inch channel, around 5 pounds. I rebaited and headed back to camp.
It seemed as if it was going to be a good night or so I thought. Little did I know that would be the only catfish of the night. I had my pole out and baited with a Canadian night crawler. I was sitting there watching my pole when all of a sudden the rod bent signaling a bite. I grabbed the pole and set the hook. The fight was on and I finally landed it. A 22 inch sucker.
I got a few perch after that and they shut down. About two hours went by and I hadn’t got a bite. I went to reel in my line so I could check my bait. I started to reel in line and it felt like I was hung up. Finally it started moving and I began reeling I knew it wasn’t a fish, I finally landed it but to my dismay it was not a fish. It was a softshell turtle probably almost 2 feet across. While I was trying to get it unhooked it broke my line and made a quick return to the river.
Later on while sitting on the river bank I noticed a snake’s head zigzagging in the water headed for shore. What the heck? Now I have had a few encounters with snakes on the river like the time I grabbed a limb to tie a limb line on and found 3 foot water snake wrapped around the limb but nothing like this. All of a sudden it is headed my way. It came out of the water onto the gravel bar like it was on a mission. I hit it on the head with my rod and it couldn’t get out of there quick enough. The rest of the night was pretty quiet.
Sadly my night on the river was coming to a close. I had hoped to catch more fish but it wasn’t meant to be. I couldn’t complain though. The time alone on the river was very much needed. It was so peaceful. For a night I felt like I was the only one on earth. I was able to savor my thoughts without interruption. Life is good.
A morning to turn on the spiggot with the push of a button on my ballpoint pen and watch my thoughts flow out onto the pages of the journal . . .
Opening lines from my morning journal, trying to get something going . . .
Saturday morning, early, found me stuck as I sat at my desk trying to figure out what to pursue next. The latest Hank & Randy painting was signed last night, and as I looked at it first thing this morning, I found several features of it unsatisfaying that I believe I can improve. But I don’t really feel like wrestling with it just yet.
On February 27 I posted a blog about my chronic pain. About 3 months ago I made the decision to find a new doctor and I was lucky enough to find Dr Paul Moniz in Farmington, MO. He didn’t waste anytime addressing my health issues. He has my piercing edema under control and referred me to a cardiologist to address my heart problem and that has been addressed.
I had asked him to order X-rays of my ankle because I wanted to make sure no stress fractures were present. He took one look at my ankle and immediately ordered a work up of my ankle and X-Rays. When he saw them he referred me to Dr Christopher Sloan, podiatrist, of Farmington.
My appointment was today and I am ecstatic with the news I received. Seems I have bone build up on the right side of my right ankle the size of a ping ball, and smaller bone build up on the left, and my heel has some abnormalities. He said the X-rays of my foot were quite evident of how painful it was for me to walk and that he would like to do an ankle replacement. He informed me that ankle replacements had been available for almost 25 years.
He continued to say I would be pain free and could walk normal. He went over everything with me very thoroughly and I agreed to let him do the procedure on October 27.
Needless to say I walked out of his office on cloud 9. Once I got into the truck and put the key in the ignition I teared up. For 40 years I have not known what it was like to walk without pain and I was looking at the possibility of finally getting that opportunity. I was saddened to think that because I wasn’t proactive and basically given up, that I could be living that dream years ago. I could only imagine how much it would improve my quality of life. Time will tell.
In closing I would like to encourage anyone in the same position as me to not be afraid to change doctors or at least get a second or even third opinion. Don’t give up hope even if you have exhausted every possible avenue. Try again in a couple of years. They are making new medical advancements every day and you never know when they might develop a way to address your problem. Don’t give up like I did. To think it might have cost me 10, 15 or 20 years of enjoying being pain free is a hard pill to swallow but it’s better late than never. Good luck!
“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.” – Thom Jones
I just had to have my Great Pyrenees euthanized on November 6, 2019. Cancer had attacked his body and he lost the war. He was only six years old.
Today, January 22,2020 I had a veterinarian appointment for my Australian Shepherd, Kate. X-Rays showed her lungs were riddled with tumors. I was devastated.
Kate was born on January 1, 2011. We became very attached to each other. I was a horseshoer and she was my ride dog. We were inseparable.
The vet thinks she has 1 to 2 weeks left with me before she crosses the bridge. Her crossing will leave a huge hole in my heart. Those who don’t love and respect animals like I do think I am being silly. For those of you who understand what it is like to love or be loved by a dog I thank God for you because you get it.
“The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of its master.” – Unknown